Temple visits are engraved in our Indian culture so much that we sometimes go looking for temples in all our vacation destinations, may it be in India or outside India. Temples not only are our place of worship but also some of them tell us about the history of the place they are in. Some of them are also built to tell the tales of various great mystical, mythological and humanitarian stories.
Thailand temples are no less. Though Thailand is always known for its beaches and nightlife, only a few people know about this side of the coin! Most of the Thailand temple propagate Buddhism. However, they have many temples dedicated to other religions as well. Let’s straight away head to some of the most popular temples in this Land of Smiles.
Sanctuary of Truth, Pattaya
A place which is the abode of not only the Gods but also home for philosophy, humanity and propagator of cultural values. This is one of the best examples of Thai Architecture. One can see the hard work put by the craftsmen in building this shrine.
This temple has the influence of both Hinduism and Buddhism. We can also see the idols of Lord Ganesha inside. The whole temple is built using the highest quality wood. Each sculpture is so well carved that one can relate to the stories they hold within themselves. The most attractive piece of this architectural marvel is its centre tower of over 100 meters tall. The main idea behind building such a beautiful temple is to preach humanity and philosophy.
Situated in the Sin City of Thailand, Pattaya it is hard to imagine that such a temple is present in its vicinity. This itself shows the diverse nature of Thailand. One mesmerizing fact is that the construction of this temple has been going on continuously for over four decades and is still on!
Wat Pho (Reclining Buddha), Bangkok
One of the most famous itineraries in Thailand’s tour is this Temple of the Reclining Buddha. One never misses visiting this divine shrine to seek a glimpse of this magnificent 10 meter tall and 46 meters long golden Buddha who is peacefully reclining on a platform of sorts. His feet itself is about 5 meters long which is exquisitely decorated with pearls illustrating 108 auspicious characteristics that helped The Great Buddha attain Enlightenment.
The official name of this temple is pretty long to remember – Wat Phra Chetuphon Wimon Mangkhalaram. This is a royal temple which was built by King Rama the first, and became his main temple where some of his ashes are enshrined. This was one of the first public education centres as well and was the place that is known to be the birthplace of the infamous Thai Massage which is taught here even today!
Wat Arun (The Temple of Dawn), Bangkok
Another one of the most popularly known Bangkok Temple and famously known as The Wat Arun, is a temple dedicated to the Sun God. Hence it’s also called The Temple of Dawn. This is a constant itinerary for most of the tourists visiting the capital city of Bangkok. Situated on the western banks of the river – Chao Phraya, this never ceases to amaze people visiting it.
This has sort of become a landmark of Thailand itself. The architecture here is as splendid as can be. The spires are decorated with mosaic and Chinese porcelain to give it a shiny and colorful appearance. There is also a facility to climb inside the tower, but one must watch out for the steep stairs. But the climb is definitely worth it as the view of the Grand Palace, Wat Pho and the flowing river is a sight to behold.
Wat Phra Kaew (Emerald Buddha),Bangkok
Again a Bangkok temple of great splendour, this temple is well known by its common name which is – The Temple of the Emerald Buddha. The official name of this temple is, however – Wat Phra Sri Rattana Satsadaram. The temple complex itself is a sight to behold. Present within the compounds of the Royal Palace, no one is allowed near the Buddha idol which is established in a serene meditative posture.
Carved out of a single Jade Stone, this statue has speculations that it originated in India or Sri Lanka. However, there is a very interesting story behind the current idol and how it came to be established.
According to history found in chronicles, the emerald Buddha was created in India, travelled to Sri Lanka, Laos, Cambodia and finally to Thailand, where it was hidden by the city ruler. The Buddha statue remained in the Pagoda at Chiang Rai. In 1434 a large stupa at Chiang Rai tumbled down after being struck by lightning, a monk noticed a Buddha image covered in golden leaf beneath the crumbled stucco.
The image was placed in the temple sanctuary. After 3 month, the plaster that covered the statue chipped off at the tip of the statue’s nose and the head monk observed that there was a statue made of beautiful green crystal inside. The rest of the plaster was chipped out exposing the Precious Buddha Idol inside.
One cannot describe the grandeur of this Royal temple in mere words. Please don’t miss this majestic Bangkok Temple!
Wat Rong Khun (White Temple), Chiang Rai.
A temple symbolizing the purity of Buddha. One of the most peaceful temples you will witness in Thailand. The presence itself is very soothing as the whole complex is a pristine white. Hence this Thailand temple is known as the White Temple.
The structure which you see standing currently is the renovated version. It was so dilapidated that an artist sold all his paintings and got it renovated. Situated in one of the most scenic provinces of Thailand, Chiang Rai, this temple is built in a contemporary style and focuses on the elements of worldly attachments and the struggles to free oneself from them.
The architecture of this beautiful shrine is such that it will look surreal in the moonlight being all spotless white and pure. Another most noted complex at this shrine is the public restroom. Which on a lighter note is considered to be the most beautiful restroom built-in decorative gold!
Temple dedicated to King Prasat Thong’s foster mother, representing the long reign and glorious era of the rule of one of the foremost emperors of Old Thailand. Still present in the then capital of Thailand, The City of Ayutthaya, this is one of the hotspots of Thailand tourism.
Once a glorious temple with multiple smaller temples surrounding it depicting Buddha’s life and paintings on its interiors, was until recently a deserted ruin, subject to decay and looting, encroachment. Only a few vague paintings are left on the walls. Royal temple of the past Thailand was also used as a burial ground for the Royal family.
The whole temple was built as a symbol of Buddha’s influence on Thai Society in which the central spire represents Mount Meru which is supposed to be the centre of the World in the Traditional Sense.
Wat Tham Seua (Tiger Cave Temple), Krabi
Best known worldwide as the Tiger Cave Temple, this temple is situated atop a hill, amidst lush forests a short distance from Beach City Krabi. The temple is so named after the prints of Tiger’s Paw were found in the inner walls of the cave.
There are legends of a Monk discovering this cave during his meditation and named it so after witnessing tigers freely roaming the cave. It’s quite a task to reach the top of the hill to visit the temple as it definitely will test your stamina. There are over 1,200 stairs. But, the view of the dense rain forests you get from the top of the hill makes your journey worthwhile.
This Thailand Temple is also of archaeological importance and we can still see the stone tools, pieces of earthen pots and broken bits of Buddha statues at the foothills.
Note: Appropriate attire is a must in all the temples in Thailand without which you will not be able to enter its premises. Even slippers and sandals are not allowed. However, dresses are available on rent around the temples for tourist’s convenience.
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